It is easy to blame societal and environmental ills on powerful elites, big business, greedy bankers, corrupt politicians and corporate fat cats; perhaps easier still to blame it all on the ‘system’. But let’s be honest, if only for the briefest of moments. We are all complicit in the current state of affairs, we the people, the consumers, employees, voters, citizens, neighbours, friends, foes, blamers and blamed. The seismic state of affairs demands a sea change from blame, resentment, fear and loathing. It’s time to awaken something deeper within and all around us.
Yes, there is most certainly a crying need for new ways of operating and organizing; and this involves us all. Yet, before we get busy, first and foremost, we need to wake up from our own delusion. And for that we need nothing more than our own intention and attention. What’s at stake here is our sense of self, our sense of society and our sense of humanity, beyond blame.
How often, in our busyness to fix things, do we pause to ponder what lies at the heart of all our problems? How often, in our rush to improve our situation and achieve more, do we catch a glimpse of reality beyond illusion? First we must recognise that we are largely caught up in our own cacophony of confusion. We must personally take on-board that it is our rushing around trying to find substitutes for the real thing that is pushing us further away from who we truly are. Only then will we be able to free ourselves and our well-intended ‘solutions’ from the flawed logic that created this untenable situation in the first place.
‘We think that being practical means keeping busy getting on with our lives, rushing from one distraction to another, finding more and more substitutes for what we dimly sense but don’t know how to face or discover.’ – Peter Kingsley
What I find so positive about the recent surge of interest in mindfulness in business is that as we can embrace a simple and effective daily practice of focusing our intention and attention. Through time-honoured contemplative practices such as meditation, holotropic breathing, journeying, Nature-immersions and embodiment activities such as dance, T’ai Chi and yoga, we allow our doors of perception to open up and the restrictive shell of our ego-self to permeate more readily with the world. Our everyday awareness, which is largely littered with fragmentary busyness, is enriched with a wellspring of inspiration and wisdom that life affords us.
Such a practical activity is to remember the origins of our Western civilisation and philosophy, to live in love of Sophia – Nature’s wisdom flowing within and all around us; a theory and practice that has been warped, misrepresented and trampled over in our head-long rush into materialism whereupon we grasp at abstractions while over-looking the real thing. These times of transformation and upheaval stimulate us to glimpse into the eye-of-the-heart of reality, if we dare look. This fuller perspective of reality is not for the faint-hearted as it requires courage both to let-go of ingrained acculturations and to let-come the uncertain unknown uncontrollable wildness beyond our domesticated numbness.
Through our own intention and attention we shape our perceptual frame influencing how we relate to: our deeper sense of self (our somatic and soulful ‘bodymind’ with its sensuous sea of spiralling yin-yang vortices, and its repressed emotions, wild undercurrents and urges, instinctual and archetypal resonances, and subtle perturbations of heartfelt intuitive wisdom); and, our social relations within the world (the human and more-than-human physical and psychical inter-related matrix of reality we find ourselves immersed within).
Through nothing simpler than stillness, we may open up to the wellspring within – the intimacy of our inner-sense – then a somatic-social-soulful sentience flows through our relations, nourishing our worldview. Put another way, by consciously opening our doors of perception beyond the narrow-mindedness of rationalistic materialism we learn to reconnect with the wisdom within and all around us, in-so-doing gain a deeper sense of intimacy, love and meaning in our lives. This is the beginning of our future, unfettered by yesterday’s logic of separation, competition and domination.
Through our conscious intent we can train ourselves to become actively attentive; training ourselves to transcend the constricting perspectives of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ Neo-Darwinism infecting our socio-economic and political worldviews today.
Neuro-imaging of the brain shows that the more we practice opening up to this deeper consciousness, the more our brain’s plasticity (ability to adapt) increases as does our baseline ability to perceive reality beyond the ego’s illusion of separation. We not only become more resilient but also more wise. So, the more we practice this state of presence through our intention and attention, the more the illusion is robbed of its conscious energy and the easier it becomes to actively engage in our emerging future unpolluted by the same thinking that created the problems in the first place.
‘The Western mind has trouble stopping its clock. It conceives its inmost life as a biological clock and its heart as a ticker… To change how we see things takes falling in love. Then the same becomes altogether different. Like love, a shift of sight can be redemptive…you get something back for what you had misperceived as merely worthless. The noisome symptoms of every day can be revalued and their usefulness reclaimed.’ – James Hillman
Rehabilitating our somatic-social-soulful selves is primary and fundamental for the future of our humanity, not a luxury nice-to-have.
The ancient wisdom traditions and pioneering discoveries of quantum physics point to the same essential wisdom, that through our intention and attention we can train ourselves to attune with the inter-relatedness of life. Through our conscious awareness of the ever-evolving moment, freed from abstractions of space-time bound linearity, we can swim with the stream and attune with the Dance of Life. This is to perceive our true humanity. This is an opening up of our soul and a revitalisation of our six senses (the sixth being intuition, which, as Einstein knew, is a sacred gift our current society has largely forgotten).
Why choose illusion when you can choose reality through nothing more simple than our intention and attention.
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View a presentation on ‘A Radical Review of Reality’ here
What a wonderful time of year Easter is, as the last vestiges of winter-time give way to spring-time’s longer days and shorter nights, and the first feelings of summer-time emerge once again. It is a time of lambs, chicks, tadpoles, green shoots, the emerging bumble bee and butterfly. Nature’s fecundity abounds.
Easter has long been a time associated with eggs, chicks, bunnies, hares and so forth – what is the deeper mythos behind this?
‘Easter’ as a word finds its roots in the Old English word Ēostre which relates to the Old German word Ostara – referring to a Germanic divinity, a goddess. Pagan Anglo-Saxons used to celebrate this time of year (which used to be called Ēosturmōnaþ before the Christian Paschal calendar replaced it with the month of April) with feasts in honour of the goddess Eostre. Eostre is the goddess of the dawn and bringer of light which finds its origins in the goddess Ausos (with Baltic, Celtic, Greek, Indo-Persian, Babylonian, Sumerian and Egyptian influences). The old Norse word austr and the Latin word auster both meaning ‘new dawn’.
The time of Easter revolves around the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox (21st March). In our Christian era, Easter has come to represent the Crucifixion (Good Friday) and Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday), which is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Full Moon after the Equinox (and so the dates of Easter can vary from 22nd March to 25th April).
Three hares within a circle can be found throughout medieval churches, as can images of eggs, spirals and the Green Man, each portraying aspects of the indwelling Spirit within Nature (World Soul).
‘Thou Nature art my goddess. To thy law my services are bound.’ – Shakespeare
It has long been understood, yet largely forgotten, that the ‘hermaphrodite hares’ (and other sacred Nature images) represent the fertility of the cyclic, spiraling, unfolding, reproducing nature of Nature. The cosmic womb of Nature from which everything spawns and decomposes into, is our ground-of-being. These images of Easter can help remind us of our lives immersed within this psychical and physical Nature.
Beyond the commodification of sacred symbols lies a deeper wisdom that resonates with the contemporary findings of biodynamics, permaculture, quantum physics, biophilia and ecological psychology. We human beings, along with every living organism and every atom or ‘wavicle’ of energy in this world, are immersed in a matrix of inter-relatedness, an ocean of metaphysical Nature.
To recognise, remember and open up to this ground-of-being is the essential purpose of Easter (whether through the fasting and prayer of Holy Week culminating in the Resurrection of Christ or the sacred rituals, dancing and earth ceremonies of paganism attuning us with goddess Eostre). Right before our very noses is the subtle scent of a deeper sentience so often ignored as we consume copious amounts of chocolate chicks, eggs and bunnies.
There is more – so much more … if we so choose to look. Within and all around us is an over-flowing vessel of wisdom.
These Easter symbols are like tips of icebergs floating upon a vast matrix of myth and legend.
The hermaphrodite hares, the cracking-open of the egg, the seed germinating into green shoots, the mischievous leafy head of the Green Man, the birthing bounty of bunnies, the full Moon after the solstice, the resurrection of Christ, all point to an underlying Truth that we are so often too busy and blinkered to see.
‘Truth is a torch, but a tremendous one. That is why we hurry past it, shielding our eyes, even terrified of getting burnt.’ – Goethe
The Robin Hood myth, for instance, is based on a far older myth, a story of the seemingly opposing tensions of the year (winter and summer, decomposition and regeneration, death and birth, receptivity and responsiveness) engaged in a tussle, a struggle, a dance, an attunement: The King of Winter giving way to the King of Summer in order to win the heart of the Maiden of Spring; The death of the Old King in ancient Alchemy giving way to a ‘new dawn’ of golden awareness; A breaking open of the ego-egg into a deeper ecological-self within the World Soul of Nature; A communion of the yang creative energies and the yin receptivity giving birth to new harmonics of life, the marriage of sacred masculine and sacred feminine aspects within us to spawn forth new ways of being and doing.
It is an ancient yet fresh mythos which all the great hero stories recount in myriad ways – the hero’s journey into the deeper, darker, wildness and instinctual forces of Nature in order to retrieve the treasure – the elixir of life – which gifts the hero with a Divine outpouring of Beauty. This elixir or ecstasy is a home-coming or re-birthing from separation into re-cognition of the ground of being – a cosmic communion of self within Nature.
We may feel glimpses of this home-coming when we touch our souls through our presencing of the moment or loving attention or sacred imagination. If only for the briefest of moments we become conscious of the divine mystery within and all around us, an unchained melody within the Dance of Life.
Three Hares Image – Paderborner Dom Dreihasenfenster by Zefram
Three hares within the mandala circle of life portraying the multiplicity within unity, the diversity of Nature within the Divine.
Below is a sacred geometric pattern that shows how the pattern the interlacing ears of the hares make embodies a deeper matrix of reality beyond the illusion of separation.
We may also notice that this pattern of inter-lacing circles is the origin of the vesica pisces of Christianity, as well as the origin of ancient symbols found throughout Alchemic, Tantric and Shamanic wisdom traditions the world over.
And so, Easter is a celebration that helps us remember the sacredness of life.
We may begin to sense the Logos, Word, Nature, Soul, Divine, Shekinah, Tao, Akasha, Aluna, Alchemy, Spirit that this Easter time celebrates – an awakening awareness flowing into the world through our own attention and intention. A soul-ful way of relating with self, other, Nature. A resurrection no less, whereupon Christ, Soul, Eostre flow through all we do.
It is in this moment of ecstatic awareness that we realise what Jesus was pointing to when he said: ‘Cleave a wood; I am there. Raise up a stone, and you will find me there.’ This is re-membering our true nature, and it is what these ancient festivals, ceremonies and symbols are here to remind us of.
It is our forgotten sense of the sacred sentience of life that underlies all our current crises. Deal with this and you deal with causes (materialism and anthropocentrism) and their downstream effects (social, environmental and economic degradation).
This is what the book The Illusion of Separation is focused on.
There is a profound shift underway in our cultural story, sense of purpose and organisational logic. Deep and complex influences within our own psyche, our collective consciousness and in the structures pervading organisations are being challenged to radically reshape; at its heart this paradigm shift challenges the very way we view the world and ourselves as embodied within it. It has the potential to change everything, and can be summarised as a shift from separateness to sacredness.
The indigenous elders of Peru explain the complete cycle of humanity as going through three movements: time of creation, time of conservation, time of renewal. The big change happens in the time of renewal which the wise elders say is upon us now. Fundamental to this is a radical change in perception – a shift in conscious awareness – which affects how we attend to life, how we be, do and become. This time of renewal we find ourselves in can be very upsetting and painful while also profoundly liberating as we free ourselves from old mental constructs, regulations and habits that keep us imprisoned in the status quo.
‘I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.’ —Gus Speth, U.S. Advisor on climate change
This time of renewal is the time to allow new springs of civilisation to flow. Yet the threshold from death of old ways to reconfiguration and renewal can seem like a scary chasm especially when we are all too engrossed in frantically patching up the current way of doing things to meet the ever-rising bills and debts. There is inherent inertia in crossing the threshold. Our feelings of security in the known and sense of safety in numbers by staying in the herd keep us fearfully clinging to old ways.
It is easy to become inured and institutionalised by the status quo and hard to break through beyond. And so the biggest challenge facing humanity is not climate change, consumerism or capitalism but our own ingrained mind-sets, behaviours and beliefs and our ability to overcome them. The future depends not on techno-fixes but on our ability as leaders, change agents, employers, employees, neighbours, families and friends to become aware of our true nature and sense of purpose in this world, in other words, to become deeply aware of who we are and what we are here for.
‘The new systemic understanding of life that has been developed at the forefront of science comprises biological, cognative, social and ecological dimensions. It applies to all living systems – individual organisms, social systems and ecosystems. Hence, it is relevant to virtually all professions and endevours.’ – Fritjof Capra
As the Chinese Zen master Huai-Chin Nan insightful said, ‘there’s only one issue in the world. It’s the reintegration of mind and matter.’ Upon our re-membering the sacred sentience of life and the consciousness (or mind) flowing through everything and every moment, we perceive the world afresh with an ecological awareness. This awareness is not simply an intellectual comprehension of our holistic inter-relatedness but a lived experience and daily embodiment of this inter-relatedness; an awareness that pervades how we relate. This is to wake up to our true nature as conscious beings actively participating within a conscious, co-creative world. It is an awareness that is before our very noses, so close that it is like looking for our glasses, not seeing they are right on our face.
We are living through a supreme moment of our evolution of consciousness. The old worldview has had its day. This was a worldview of organisations, societies and individuals perceived as competitive self-maximising units embroiled in an evolutional process of selfish ascendency where we either dominate or become dominated. The emerging worldview perceives a deeper inter-relatedness beyond the narrowing down lens of our alienating ego-consciousness (and left-brained reductionism) in opening up to an ecological consciousness (of head, heart and hand ‘bodymind’ awareness) which perceives the nature of our selves immersed within a sentient sea of entwined mind and matter.
It is our forgotten sense of the sacred sentience of life that underlies all our current crises. Deal with this and you deal with causes (materialism and anthropocentrism) and their downstream effects (social, environmental and economic degradation). And there are many people actively involved in helping this transformation in consciousness take root (for more on this see The Future of Business article on TriplePundit). This sacred vision and deeper way of relating is not some luxury add-on which can be dispensed with in times of economic strife, it is foundational to who we truly are; without it we become rudderless, tossed this way and that by inauthentic egotistic whims – distracted, dis-eased and deluded. Enter the contagion of consumerism in our midst.
The Paradigm Shift
Dominator > Participatory
Narcissistic > Empathic
Materialistic > Soulful
Ego as master > Ego as assistant
Patriarchy > Reciprocity
Separation > Inclusion
We can realise this sacred vision of the world through our joyful attunement of our body and environment. By letting-go of habituations and narrowing-down constrictions in our minds, we create space for a deeper awareness of life beyond the illusion of separation to radiate through us. After all, it’s our true nature and, when activated, it feels like a home-coming.
It is through our deepening awareness that we begin to realise the truth of the poet William Blake’s words, ‘everything that lives is holy’, and through our awareness of what is in this present moment of life we realise this holiness. This is our beginning. From here we can breathe into the new paradigm of reverence and respect, becoming all that we truly are in this enchanting and deeply wise world.
Giles Hutchins applies twenty years business experience to the emergence of new business logic inspired and in harmony with nature, for a short video see here.
The transformational times in our midst demand that organisations redesign for resilience in order to flourish in the volatile times ahead.
The most important challenge facing leaders, strategists and operational managers in these times is a shift in logic from the out-dated mind-set of mechanistic, reductive, quantised, atomised, silo’ed, command-and-control thinking to a logic inspired by and in harmony with Nature that allows us to thrive during uncertainty by opening up to emerging futures through co-creativity, networking and reciprocity. Nature’s patterns, processes and inherent grammar display a universal wisdom that we’d do well to attune to.
We now know that life is neither innately selfish nor driven by dog-eat-dog competition. Nature is a rich interplay of reciprocity, networking, cooperation and competition. The evolutionary diversification of life is a dynamic process of co-creative influence, over vastly differing scales from microcosm to macrocosm.Whether it be at the places, products, processes, people or purpose dimensions within an organisation, embracing Nature’s wisdom helps organisations flourish in these volatile times. Let’s take a brief look at these organisational dimensions:
Places: There is a shift afoot from viewing the place of work as a static estate to viewing it as a healthy, vibrant place that adapts and responds to human nature and wider Nature. A design partner of Interface, David Oakley notes, ‘shape-shifting times call for inspired spaces that enable us to be connected yet distinct, like colours in a rainbow. Spaces that reflect our ability to adapt and bend and flex to meet today’s constant changes ensure our ability to survive and thrive.’
Products: Product design inspired by Nature is no longer niche, with a plethora of products across all sectors applying bio-inspired design from high-speed trains and aeroplane wing tips to mobile phone displays and smart grid networks. As the late Steve Jobs said, ‘I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.’
Processes: Not only is the design process of products transforming, but also the product life-cycle from raw material to recycling and reuse. Industrial ecology and closed-loop economics are Nature-inspired approaches taken up by many leading sustainable businesses. What is also apparent is a shift afoot from product-orientation to service-orientation, where product-based approaches are being transformed into services, in-so-doing radically transforming the value-add provision and the stakeholder relationships from one-off to on-going. As Paul Hawken, Amory and Hunter Lovins noted a few years back, the shift to a service economy reverses ‘age-old assumptions about growth: an economy where we grow by using less and less, and become stronger by being leaner.’
People: People are perhaps the most complex part of an organisation. Business inspired by nature creates the conditions conducive to collaboration, adaptability, creativity, local attunement, multi-functionality and responsiveness; hence, enhancing the evolution of organisations from rigid, tightly managed hierarchies to dynamic living organisations that thrive and flourish within ever-changing business, socio-economic and environmental conditions. People are emancipated from top-down bureaucracy and KPI-obsessed management to co-create within emergent yet purposeful teams.
Purpose: While, on the surface, diverse, interconnected, emergent organisations may appear more chaotic and difficult to manage, they are vibrant places for people to become self-empowered – self-managing through mutual understanding of correct behaviours rooted in core values and clarity of purpose. It is this shared value set of core ethics that ensures self-empowered diversity naturally emerges towards delivering the value creation goals of the organisation, while maintaining flexibility, adaptability and sense of purpose.
True sustainability is being in harmony with Nature by learning to participate as co-creators in the immense beauty of life. The more we open ourselves up to our inner nature, our local neighbourhood and the wider world around us the more we attune with the wisdom in our midst. The diversity of our individuality is what makes for the richness and resilience of our collectivity. This communal, cultural and soulful wisdom is as relevant for politics, as it is for sustainable business, as it is for community regeneration.
In short, Nature’s inspiration can help us re-align minds, hearts and souls. It helps us remember that we are expressions within a deeper matrix of Nature. The bright future of business lies in its scientific, sensuous and soulful understanding of Nature’s wisdom beyond the confines of yesterday’s divisive logic of dog-eat-dog competition and anthropocentric separateness. As Aristotle, Einstein, Da Vinci, Confucius and many other profound minds knew, to be in harmony with Nature is to embody the wisdom within and all around us beyond reductive, mechanistic logic, whereupon our left and right brain hemisphere’s and head and heart cohere. This is when we Homo sapiens live up to our name of wise beings.
Here is a link to a short video of a talk Giles Hutchins gave in London recently.
The scientific materialism of modernity has castrated our comprehension of Nature by casting out its psyche and soul from our rational mind’s eye – the single vision and Newton’s sleep William Blake warned us of. In abstracting ‘things’ from their lived-in context, our narrowed-down materialistic perspective of the world de-natures Nature in to nothing more than a collection of objects to be manipulated by us for us. Materialism extracts spirit from Nature and in the process drains the life-blood from reality and our own sense of self within Nature so that we sever our connection with deeper Nature. As a result our individual psyches and collective psyche get out-of-kilter and dis-eased causing us profound suffering and anxiety which then fuels a lusting, wanting, owning, consuming mentality. To re-sacralise Nature in our mind’s eye is, therefore, the most fundamental of all actions for our present day activist to embark upon. It gets to the root of the mother of all problems and emancipates us from the imprisonment of our own making; with this re-sacralisation we breakthrough the walls of this illusion. Gone with the illusion is our carcinogenic way.
The dominant worldview of the world and universe as purposeless and devoid of consciousness is the same materialistic worldview that pervades our media, arts, philosophy, education, science and economics. It is a mechanistic logic that sets us apart from each other and Nature; it pits us against each other where Nature is viewed as a ‘war of all against all’. It creates a carcinogenic way of attending and an evolutionary path of selfish ascendency where the cancer sets about destroy its host and then winds up killing itself. It is not in the least wise. The founders of Western philosophy respected the innate wisdom of life beyond the confines of any illusory sense of separation, yet over time we have tended towards egotism and materialism, debasing ourselves and demeaning Nature.
Time is no longer on our side. It’s time for humanity to live up to its name of wise beings and recognise the insanity of our own mindset. It’s time to move beyond a self-absorbed and parasitic logic fuelling the rush hour of our insanity.
When do we find the space and time in our busy lives to ask the real questions about ‘why are we here’, ‘what is life’, ‘where do we go from here’, ‘what is true love’. How often in our daily escapades do we notice the immense awesome beauty of life?
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, what would we do if the stars only came out once every thousand years? No one would sleep that night, and we would get religious quick. Instead they come out every night and we watch TV. The whole way of thought and conduct within our Western way of life is being called into question as it is no longer fit for purpose for the times we find ourselves in. Out of the transformative fires ahead of us a phoenix of new consciousness will rise, a consciousness that will quicken us into listening, awakening, sensing and attuning with the sacred beauty and Truth of Nature’s wisdom within and all around us. This is what these transformational times demand of us – to activate the infinite potential of the seemingly super-natural, paranormal all-pervasiveness of Nature’s wisdom.
As Einstein remarked, today’s paranormal is tomorrow’s normal. To explore ‘the new paradigm’ further, join the Face Book community here For a complete podcast series on this shift in paradigm see here bit.ly/1Gj31TL
Either first- or second-hand we know of the power of authentic small-group discussion. Yet how often do we give ourselves the space and time to allow for this in our hectic schedules.
In our relentless striving to do more we rush passed the treasure in our midst.
And so it was with a great sigh of relief that I spent a lovely morning with employees of Andrew Thornton’s Budgens honouring the simple sacredness of authentic small-group discussion in a time-honoured practice of Way of Council.
The ancient indigenous Way of Council allows for groups to open up to the wisdom of the heart through a communal atmosphere of sharing, non-judgement and acceptance. In Council, people sit in a circle and commit to being fully present; really listening to each other from the heart, free from distractions, judgements, opinion forming or preparation of response. And as a result of this humane discussion, empathy, honesty, commitment and trust form – qualities we all-too-seldom find in business these days, sadly.
By opening up to ourselves and others with loving kindness and attention, we allow the shadows within us all that isolate, alienate and degrade our sociality – such as preconceived judgements, projections and anxieties – to see the light of day.
At Friends House one bright, frosty winter’s morning I witnessed a dozen staff from Thornton’s Budgens transcend diverse cultural differences to find the commonality within humanity. This gives me hope for an increasingly challenging future ahead for us all.
Much business behaviour today, as well as our prevalent way of living, is corrupted by our general distracted and dis-eased attention. We find ourselves losing touch with our innate capacity to rest in our own natural awareness, to be sensitive to the subtle perturbations of the heart, and so to empathise and meaningfully relate.
The simple, yet profound activity of people coming together in a conscious and authentic way allows for a healing in the fractured busi-ness of today’s hedonic mania. It is in these sacred openings that we find our global yet local humanity; our differing tunes within the universal Dance of Life.
Simple activities of giving the other person our undivided attention as we listen deeply to them; listening without interruption; speaking without fear of interruption or judgement: How often do we practice these humane behaviours in today’s world?
And so what Andrew Thornton and Jim (the Store Manager) did that bright, frosty winter’s morning was to allow the light of hope to shine, and in-so-doing gaining a more committed, loyal, responsive team of employees. My wish is that Thornton’s Heart-In-Business programme reaches many more organisations, as for sure they will benefit in profound ways.
Giles Hutchins is a speaker, adviser and author on the new business paradigm inspired by and in harmony with Nature.
Having spent many years advising a variety of public, private and third sector organisations on business transformation and latterly sustainability, I embarked on a life transition directed by my love of Nature and the call of my heart.
Recently I was interviewed by www.conscious.tv about my life and my books, the interview can be watched here, and this article is a summary of some of the aspects of my life journey thus far. For as long as I can recall, I have been in love with Nature. My teenage years laid witness to my fury upon finding out the crimes we consciously and unconsciously commit against Nature, whether it be factory farming or widespread desecration to make way for anthropocentric ‘progress’. I have long recognised that such crimes inflict, and are inflicted by, inner psychological wounds at collective and personal levels.
As I grew older I was waking up to the realisation that our hubristic sense of domination over Nature was at the root of this widespread deep psychic suffering, leading to all sorts of downstream effects: fear, anxiety, depression, dis-ease, egotism, individualism, consumerism. A vicious cycle ensues of separateness, control, domination, degradation, violence, fear, suppression, more violence and more individualism. I was committed to finding out how the world works and why we humans seem to be destroying life rather than living in harmony within its immense awe-inspiring beauty.
For a variety of reasons, I found myself in business and vowed to understand how this ‘system’ worked. Many years at KPMG as a management consultant and then latterly as Global Director of Sustainability for Atos provided an excellent foundation in how business transformation, organisational management and leadership, capitalist value-creation and corporate life operate.
Yet by around 2006, I was struggling to hold-down my supressed views on how insane our worldview seems to me. I was struggling to find anything of value within the business worldview that adequately dealt with our anti-life approach, but met many inspirational people in business and beyond who also shared my love of life.
I signed up to some yoga classes mainly as a way to try and gain a balance from my hectic work-hard-play-hard life style. It was fortuitous that the nearest classes to me happened to be Tara Yoga, a small intimate class within a larger Tantra school which provided hand-outs to read after each class as well as discussions about consciousness and awareness in everyday life, meditation, breathing, colour therapy, mantras, etc. I purchased some yoga Nidra CDs that had a profound effect on me – essentially a lying down meditation where you focus on different parts of the body and then visualise things while the CD narrative guides you. Doing this after a yoga practice took me into deeper consciousness while still very much awake and so I could start to really sense and cognise what was going on in a lucid way. None of it felt strange, all of it made sense and it felt like coming home. It was as if I was always waiting for this and now my life was finally starting to open up to it all. Yet I saw no way of assimilating this into my busy corporate life.
I recall walking along a pier one day and having what could be called an epiphany or ‘glimpse’, when I sensed clearly that all I had to do was live life with love, yet my ego-awareness soon counter-acted this ‘non-sense’ with the sobering reality of every day competitive struggle.
Then came one too many David Attenborough programmes. I remember that Sunday evening well, when I cried aloud, tears streaming down my face, as I opened up to all the pain I had suppressed over the years at all we were doing to life. At that moment I vowed to begin and follow my inner calling, no more watching, the time had come to dive in with both feet and dedicate my life to ‘life’. I just began, putting one foot in front of the other, each and every day, starting to voice my feelings and begin the arduous task of allowing my inner and outer worlds to attune.
In the months ahead, I read avidly, mainly about sustainability, and met with many leading thinkers and organisations at the vanguard of sustainable business. In 2008 I set up a Sustainability offering for Atos UK and then in 2010 I became Global Head of Sustainability for Atos International – with 80,000 employees it was a large IT services provider and soon became the first global IT services organisation to achieve GRI A+ ranking. Around that time I co-founded Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, a collaborative of specialists applying ecological thinking for business transformation. I started to write articles for The Guardian on business inspired by Nature and was approached by a publisher to write a book – The Nature of Business.
I had another ‘peak experience’ (or ‘glimpse’ as for me it is a ‘thinning of the veil’ whereupon we see reality in its deeper, truer nature, which is always here, glimpsed when our ego-awareness permeates with a deeper natural, soulful, ecological awareness). I vividly sensed that the path ahead was simply living with love – everything to be done with complete truth and love, no inauthenticity, everything from the heart. Yet once again, within moments of this clear realisation, the ego-head recognition that I would not get very far in my work life with such an attitude snapped me out of it.
Soon after, I was in Amsterdam on business and had a vision of Jesus Christ, once again, my ego-fear kicked-in and also a lack of self-love as I felt ashamed to look directly at the vision, I felt neither ready nor worthy to look Jesus in the eyes as knew in my heart I had made only superficial ground, internally and externally, the deeper work was yet to come. Getting the global sustainability role was a big break for me as it enabled me to move out of London to Devon to be more immersed in Nature.
In Devon, my daily meditations and yoga were supplemented with sitting against trees I got to know intimately. I learnt a Druidic tree meditation and healing practice which I practiced daily with the trees. I also started writing short articles while sitting next to trees, blogs for my personal website and global networks such as GSB, CSRWire, TriplePundit, 2Degrees.
The biggest step for me was handing in my notice from corporate life in 2012 with no job to go to, just unchartered waters stretching out ahead. Well a slight fib – initially I had lined-up a fully funded PhD at Exeter University on Biomimicry for Business, which would give me a steady income, an office a business card and title – my safety blankets post corporate life. But I realised I was still going to feel imprisoned by the PhD and needed to go deeper in my thinking beyond mere extrapolations of Nature’s processes and patterns into a deeper Nature immersion of the wisdom that lies within and beyond these patterns and processes which, for me, alluded to a systemic paradigm shift in business and beyond.
Leaving corporate life and also declining a paid research position at Exeter Uni was all contrary to my conditioning of security, career, status, financial income, etc. and, while my earnings have been pathetic in comparison since, it is with no regrets. I gave myself the vital space and time to deepen my inner psychic connection to Nature and also to recover from years of shell-shocking global travel, stress, burning the candle at both ends, etc. I underwent something of a metamorphosis from 2012 to 2014, gradually healing while letting go of old mentalities, going through a ‘dark night of the soul’, embracing the unconscious depths of my imaginal realm and making friends once again with the stillness within and all around.
It was through my daily embracement of Nature that my imagination and childlike wonder returned to me. During this time, I embarked on my second book, The Illusion of Separation. Soon I started to feel more alive once again. Yet I have come to realise my metamorphosis is more like a continuous transformational process, spiralling twists and turns, not a one-off job. Synchronistically, my first book was published a fortnight before our first baby was born, and exactly the same happened for my second book and baby, allowing me to ensure smooth publication and then focus on being the birthing partner (both our children were natural water births at home for which I can take no credit, my wife did all the hard work, I just held the sacred space as best I could.)
Hazel’s conception (9 months before) I remember clearly, as I felt as if a deeper presence had opened up and an energetic spark entered – at the time I said to my wife that if this moment leads to conception it will be amazing as I actually felt the presence of something within a deeper imaginal realm. It was her conception. Things like this buoy my faith in the deeper reality beyond.
There is no longer any three year plan ahead of me like I always used to have; this part of my life is unmapped and I let go with faith and trust in the unfolding. My heart is my compass.
Perhaps the biggest catalysts in my life have been my relationships with my children and wife. It is the intimacy of my relations with my wife and kids that provides the greatest tests and opportunities for me to let go of constricting, narrowing-down perspectives based on control and fear while opening up to a deeper compassion for myself and others, and a deeper courage to reach beyond habituated patterns that hold me back from fully loving. This journey of the heart has asked me to face my inner demons on numerous occasions – sometimes daily. My busy mind often plagues me with thoughts that life would be far easier if I was ignorant of the pain and love I have for life or if I just followed the money. Yet, in truth, there is no real doubt that the path I am on is the only viable one.
Brief Bio – Giles Hutchins applies twenty years business experience to the emergence of a new paradigm. Formerly a management consultant for KPMG, more recently Global Sustainability Director for Atos International, co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation, ambassador for Embercombe, adviser for Akasha Innovation, he speaks and writes about the transformation to new ways of operating inspired by and in harmony with Nature.
His first book, The Nature of Business, received much praise on both sides of the Atlantic. His second book, The Illusion of Separation ( on Amazon and on Amazon.com ) is now out. Giles blogs at www.thenatureofbusiness.org, facebook community https://www.facebook.com/businessinspiredbynature and tweets @gileshutchins
The Illusion of Separation – Contrary to popular opinion, capitalist consumerism is not the problem. Rather, it is a downstream effect of a deeper malaise woven deep into our cultural psyche at partly unconscious levels. The source of our current social, economic and environmental ills springs from inherent flaws in how we perceive and construct the world we live in. The Illusion of Separation takes us on an exploration of the root causes of our multiple ills so that we can breakthrough into reality beyond illusion. Moving to a new society and a new consciousness inspired by and in harmony with Nature. Listen to the podcasts to learn more: http://bit.ly/1Gj31TL and see the infographic here: http://visual.ly/illusion-separation-infographic